Fall is great for spectacular colours and spooky crows

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Colours abound Ponoka’s streets on a warmer than usual fall day.

Colours abound Ponoka’s streets on a warmer than usual fall day.

MIKE RAINONE

Hammertime

Although our autumn season eventually means cooler weather, shorter days, and the coming of you know what — it is usually the most spectacular season of our unpredictable Alberta weather mix.

At this time of the year a lot of us make every effort to get up early and stay up just late enough to watch those ominous sunrises and sunsets, even though they are now drawing closer together. Are they possibly leaving us signs of what might lay ahead?

As we yawn and gaze at that beauty in the sky we will likely remember the age-old mariner’s promise that “Red sky at night is a sailor’s delight, and red sky at morning is a sailor’s warning.” Have we not seen on so many occasions that this simple forecast has been more realistic than those of our daily weather prognosticators?

Fall is also the glorious occasion of our traditional harvest, as well as the opportunity for the most avid of green thumbs to show off their wild, weird, and over-grown carrots, puffballs, spuds, carrots, pumpkins, and whatever into the newspaper office for a photo.

Most folks of any age can’t help but be in awe of the amazing colours of fall, appearing as if many artists had dabbled every colour on their palettes throughout the countryside, and then nature’s power has come along and spread them helter-skelter for all of us who love to rake and roll.

You only have to look around the stores to realize that Halloween is not too far away, with the spooky 2011 event set for Monday, Oct. 31 from sunset to the bewitching hour. Whatever costume you design or choose for your precious trick or treaters, please make sure that will be warm and safe, that they have a light, and suggest that they might roam the neighbourhood that night with a buddy who is dressed as King Kong.

This is also a great time of the year to watch a whole lot of majestic birds getting ready to make their long trip south to the warmer climates. Those adorably ugly balls of fluff that arrived in the spring have now grown into young adults, who will soon gather their flocks, set their supernatural GPS, and make a V-line for the sun and sand.  Of course there will be those tough species of our feathered friends who will stick around for the long winter, somehow surviving off what is left in the fields, berries, frozen road-kill tidbits, or from the feeders many kindly souls will fill each chilly morning.

On the same subject of birds, most of us likely cannot help but watching the zany antics of the noisy crow species. I found out these elusive black creatures have for ages been known as rather despicable predators who methodically ravage any location where they can acquire a free meal. It became so bad many centuries ago that King Henry VIII imposed a ‘crow bounty,’ while in 1937 in Oklahoma the hunters turned out in great numbers to contribute to a massive community ‘crow roast.’

Whatever the case, these pesky critters are actually near the top of the list of natures’ most intelligent species, likely being just as smart as the great apes. Studies have shown that they can remember faces and they conspire and communicate with each other while rummaging for food. After I read this I sat on the corner on several occasions watching a group of crows sitting on the edge of the road and sizing up a tasty morsel, while meanwhile high up on a nearby lightpost was one of their buddies keeping an eye on the situation, and loudly expressing instructions. Believe it or not it worked, and ask yourself, have you ever seen to many crows that have succumbed to road kill on our busy streets?

Then again one of my favourite all-time movie classics was Alfred Hitchcock’s 1963 thriller, The Birds so maybe I’m just a little paranoid??

Also for those of us who are sports fanatics, fall is the only time of the year when we get to watch baseball, football, hockey, soccer and maybe even basketball each weekend — but only as long as the wife and kids have their own large television and dibs on the best snacks in the living room, and we are on call for the rest of the week.

Questions that will always be forever unanswered

Why is the man who invests all our money called a ‘broker?’ Why is the time of the day with the slowest traffic called ‘rush hour?’ Why didn’t Noah swat those two mosquitoes? Why do many of us wait until after the first snowstorm to winterize our vehicles or put up our outside Christmas decorations?

Have a great ‘might even get warmer’ week, all of you!